to Craig County,
Oklahoma Genealogy Trails!
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Select a County Site to visit:
county lies in the Osage Plains, accounting for the large area of
fertile, rolling prairies. The Neosho Lowlands, a subdivision of the
Osage Plains, extends into the county's eastern and southern portions,
creating a rougher environment. The tributaries of the Neosho River
drain the county, with Big Cabin Creek the main artery in southern
Craig County. This region was hunting grounds for the Osage and
other Plains Indian
tribes. Beginning in the 1830s the Cherokee arrived, with many reaching
the territory in 1838-39 following the Trail of Tears, when they were
forced to leave their southeastern United States homes. The area became
part of the Delaware and Cooweescoowee districts of the Cherokee
Nation, Indian Territory. From the 1830s until the Civil War present
Craig County was sparsely populated. The Military Road, or Texas Road,
ran through the eastern part of the county, as did the East Shawnee
Cattle Trail, which went to
Baxter Springs, Kansas. There were other hunting trails used by various
tribes. Between 1867 and 1871 the U.S. government moved the Shawnee and
Delaware into the territory from northeastern Kansas. In 1871 the
Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway built tracks through present Craig
County from the north to south. Also in 1871 the Atlantic and Pacific
Railroad, later the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway constructed a
line to Vinita from east to west. After 1881 this railroad continued
construction in Indian Territory,
reaching Tulsa in 1882. The Oklahoma State Constitutional Convention
created Craig County and named it for Granville Craig, a prominent
mixed-blood-Cherokee farmer who had lived in the Welch-Bluejacket area
since 1873. Vinita became the county seat.
CITIES & TOWNS
are five incorporated towns in the county plus White Oak
(unincorporated) and Centralia (ghost town). There are numbers of other
communities such as Banzet, Bowlin Springs, Hollow, Hudson, Wimer,
Miles, Kinnison, Estella, Russell Creek, and Okoee. The county
comprises 7,762.71 square miles of land and water. The area sits on the
western edge of the Ozark Plateau and eastern edge of the Prairie
Plains. The prairies include
small streams, uplifted sandstone hills, and in the western part high,
long mounds such as Blue Mound west of Centralia, Notch Mound northwest
of Centralia, and Hayrick Mound near the Kansas border. Coal, natural
gas, and limited amounts of oil have been found in some areas of the
sandstone uplifts. Mining began after the Civil War with major
operations initiating about 1900. Coal was dug in mines as well as
strip-mined, and was still produced at the beginning of the
twenty-first century in western parts of the
county. An oil refinery operated west of Vinita as early as 1911,
shipping 1,200 to 1,500 cars of oil monthly in 1917. Sinclair Oil
Company then bought the refinery and operated it until the mid-1920s.
Ranching and farming became a major economic base before statehood. In
1907 there were approximately 387,500 acres of farm land, with corn,
oats, and wheat the principal crops. In 2000 more than 418,350 acres
were used for farming and ranching, with hay, soybeans, wheat, sorghum,
and corn raised in quantity. Mt.
Riga Farms, east of Big Cabin, was a major dairy farm in the early
1900s as well as a major hunting dog producer. Charles E. Griffith, Mt.
Riga's owner, also bred Champion pointer bird dogs. There remain a
large number of ranches in the western part of the county. (Source:
Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture)